Take a bit of Grand Theft Auto and mix in some 8-Bit graphics, then sprinkle in some 80’s and early 90’s memories and references and you get Retro City Rampage. Is this a batch worth mixing or are your memories safer untouched?
You play as a player named…well, Player, a criminal who finds himself in a crazy predicament, after finding himself in a crisis he steals an “excellent” phone booth and travels through time. It’s there he meets with Doc Choc who has a special car, a DeLorean if you will, that will get him back in time. So your job is to find these missing pieces to rebuild the DeLorean (which includes a 72-pin cartridge) by taking odd jobs along the way.
Let’s get this out of the way. This game is completely oozing with pop-culture references. You will find references from not only games from yesteryear but movies and TV shows as well. It’s a parody game that does a great job at telling its own story too. You might run into “Bundy’s Marry Chapel” or a “Fresh Prints” store along the way. You might encounter similar looking characters like the Go-Go Busters (who clean poles and “stains”) or Duck Norris from a certain high school with his geeky sidekick “Squeak”. If any of those references didn’t tickle your fancy you were born after the year 2000 and I hate you.
Yes the references are a great gag in and of itself, it’s fun to see the words “conglaturation(sic)” show up when you’re hired by the Go-Go Busters and it’s funny to see a Doc Louis lookalike, hell it’s even better to see a van that looks like the Turtles van or a bike that looks like Yoshi driving on the road, again some of these jokes might fly over your head but some will get it, it’s all good but there is one important question to ask. How is the gameplay?
Iffy to be honest. There are moments when you driving that feel great but trying to turn in a specific spot will result in a crash, and then another, and another. This wouldn’t be too bad but some missions ask you to drive in a lap and you’ll be crashing into everything while trying to avoid traffic. There are homages to older games like a Paper Boy sequence that was frustrating in itself because it didn’t control as smoothly as you would hope. The controls just aren’t up to par of what it’s asking. The Ninja Turtle swimming stage is a great homage but is frustrating beyond belief because of the stiff controllers. Maybe that was the point, to have the controls be hard just like the old days. I’m not sure, but there are moments when you’ll have to put the control down, watch reruns of Saved by the bell and eventually try again. Just to keep yourself from throwing the controller across the room. That’s not to say the controls are awful as for the majority of the time the game is played fine. But the specific moments that require you to do some precision, pin-point action will be irritating.
Retro City Rampage looks like Grand Theft Auto if Grand Theft Auto was made for the NES. Which is exactly what it was supposed to be. Originally a homebrew title has now becomes an indy title on the big consoles. And I couldn’t have been any happier. There is a lot happening on the screen and a lot of things to explore (if this was on the NES there would be a lot of flickering and glitches happening resulting in a broken NES after it met my foot). For every car you drive, for every pedestrian you gleefully run over and for every animation I am thankful the path this game took. This is the way to make an 8-bit world really come alive and believe it or not you might need more than a bit of Blast Processing.
The whole game is 8-bit. Characters are no bigger than your pinky-nail but yet, they have a lot of personality. The incredible part is you can use a various amount of filters and styles to alter the games view. Sure you can play in widescreen. Or. Play as if it’s being viewed through an old tube TV (with the knobs), or even better, how about a Game Boy, or with a Bit Trip Background, or an arcade cabinet, hell you can even change the way the game looks. Give it a pea-color filter like the Game Boy, or make everything Red like the Virtual Boy, Make it incredibly blue and harsh like the old Dos computers or use some of that “blurst (sic) Processing” to give it the right amount of attitude. I’ve spent way too much time in the options menu and playing in different styles and I loved them all. It’s actually quite sickening the amount of detail was spent on the filters and some might just choose to play in widescreen, for those who only do that…you make me sick.
You may notice how small everything is and it’s OK because it’s such a terrible thrill to drive through a group of pedestrians and not be as gory as other games. The game will switch from top-view GTA style to Legend of Zelda Style. There are sidescrolling moments, sneaking missions, shoot-em-up missions, timed missions, self-aware missions and side-quests. Yes, there is a lot to do and see. You can visit various shops and get a different hair style, nose job, completely new face, tattoos, purchase weapons and visit arcades. If that’s not enough the actual game has over 50 levels and you won’t get bored by the story.
This is helped by the fantastic script. There have been moments where I literally laughed at the screen thanks to the writing and perfectly-timed on-screen jokes. Such as the sound of audience laughing after a corny joke. It tickles the right way. The characters all stand out on their own even if they happen to be parodies. Like Bliffman, a masked vigilante, Billy Campbell a Bruce Campbell lookalike or the lovable Doc Choc (not to be confused with Doc Brown) who says “Great Gosh” instead of “Great Scott!”. you’ll get the jokes but they’re all, still, likable characters and that’s very important in a game that’s self-aware.
The music is enough to make anyone who owned an NES smile. With songs sounding similar to other titles (the Megaman one standing out the most) it’s all beautifully composed. It sort of reminds me of how Weird Al’S music is. It’s the same but yet different than the original, making it itself, its own creation. The whole game can be seen as a Weird Al concept game, now that I think about it. As the parody is as good, if not better, than the original. You can actually go to the Retro City Rampage website and give a listen to the soundtrack. It’s pretty nice to hear.
With the amount of references, jokes, and fun gameplay. Anyone can still pick this up. Sure there might be a joke you’ll miss, but chances are you’ll at least understand one of the many references. From Dr. Von Buttnick to a pair of shoes that make you run at “supersonic” speed. There’s something for everyone. The controls can be incredibly frustrating at times but for the most part they work well. The visuals and music is really what makes this game so unique and stand out. The references are nice, yes, but like the Scott Pilgrim books if its written well we will enjoy it no matter what. The references are just the extra topping on an already great tasting Pizza. Get Retro City Rampage as soon as you can and relive you childhood memories as if it was written by you. (Or at least how you wish it would be).
Lots of neat references
Graphics and filters oh my
ConsControls can be irritating Some missions can get a bit boring Can be repetitive at times
We received a review code for Retro City Rampage. All opinions are honest and of the minds of the Paranerds.com staff.